I was wandering around the bookshops down town and I thought I might as well get this book along with Colour of Magic. After searching my way through just about every Isaac Asimov title (and there are quite a few) I gave up, only to discover on getting back home that this game is from the Isaac Asimov science fiction magazine rather than the man himself. My mistake, you might think, but as with all misconceptions something is shown up here - like where is this game coming from? (Man.)
Anyway, wherever it comes from, the story isn't half bad. It relates how the peace-loving and highly advanced Zyroneans had it cushy until this Kayleth arrived to wreak havoc and destruction. The story, by sheer coincidence, has a passing resemblance to a Star Trek episode lovingly repeated by the good old Beeb in November last ear the one where this advanced sit, oblivious, high up in the clouds while the troglodytes in their caves are kept down by an insidious gas from the caves ' rock walls). In this game the rare mineral, chromazin, is the desired commodity and Kayleth, employing atomic disemblers and ruthless androids, enslaves the Zyronears and humbles them with the task of clawing out the subterranean rocks to extract the precious ore he so desperately needs.
Now, in true sci-fi comic book tradition, there has to be some beck who will put principle above short term acquiescence and, yes you've guessed it, the pillock is the character you hoist around this jc4ly jaunt of a program. So as to leave you in no doubt as to the enormity of the task you've let yourself in for, the program kicks off with your good self firmly strapped to a conveyor belt which is moving ever closer to a pair of cold, steel claws which rhythmically descend and spew out a charge of electric blue light. Now I wouldn't worry so much about the claws being cold (you think the robot would have the decency to warm its hands first, really); it's that electric blue light which should have you struggling with your arm restraints. By the way, if you're wondering why your character hasn't a name, well, that's all part of the story - your mind has been emptied by brainwashing, and only playing through the game can cast any light on who you might be.
The feel of the game is highly professional, as you might expect from US Gold. The loading screen is flashy and constructed in an unusual manner with a number counting down a fast load. At the start an option to preview the game is offered and it would take a will of iron to resist. Revealed are the super graphics and no-nonsense location descriptions, but I'm afraid I really can't get over one major failing with these ADVENTURESOFT games (the last one was Rebel Planet, Aug 86 TRAIL) and that is the blinding white background. It's a bit like the advert they used to run about motorists dazzling the guy in front with headlights on full beam. The child in the car asks if daddy was blinded to which he replies, ' no, I wasn't looking'. The same goes for me reviewing these games. To avoid a headache for the rest of the day the brightness on the screen must be turned right down which causes the pictures to disappear. It's a shame not seeing the pictures - but who wants a headache?
I did have a quick run through the preview pics with the brightness up and it seems that a lot of effort has gone into the graphics. Three-stage animation is often seen, as with the hug two-headed Mokki Ray in the Twin Peril forest and the ferocious Zemps in the ancient citadel of Zenron. To save memory now and again mirror images are used to form a symmetrical picture but all-in-all, the pictures are always impressive.
Vocabulary-wise the game moves beyond simple verb/noun input with multiple commands, and commands are separated with a comma or the words AND and THEN. A further refinement uses IT as in GET THE PYXIS AND OPEN IT.
Kayleth follows in the footsteps of Rebel Planet. As with that game, this one has a lot to offer the dedicated adventure enthusiast. In addition, science fiction fans may find much of interest in what is a very well-constructed plot.
Difficulty: not overly difficult
Presentation: white background is abysmal
Input facility: beyond verb/noun
A belated appearance for this review, due to the belated appearance of the review copy - it must've been delivered using some special 4th class mail. But late or not, this game deserves attention as it's a complex and graphically excellent adventure from Adventuresoft and author Steve Ufnowski, who was responsible for Rebel Planet. Screen layout bears some resemblance to that game, but the graphics have been beefed up a little as you can see if you choose the Sneak Preview option when you load - I'm not sure if I want to encounter some of the creatures that are obviously lurking in the depths of this program, waving their various heads about and leaping around the screen.
Though this has the magic name of Issac Asimov on the front (and mis-spelled on the back) it's merely a story from Issac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and not one actually from the man himself. Did I say 'merely a story' though? Correct that at once, as you'll need all your wits about you on this one. For starters you begin by lying spreadeagled on a conveyor belt which is inching towards some electrified robotic claws. I seem to remember James Bond being in a similar predicament in one of his escapades, but with a laser beam edging towards his nether regions. In fact bonds are what tie you, as the program hints if you linger too long, and so with a single bound you're free... for a while, anyway.
In this game you're well advised to examine everything in every location - read those descriptions carefully if you're hoping to come up with the "Hey, I found something!" message. Initially you have about a dozen locations to explore, with various tasks to perform before learning a secret code that you'll need when you enter the Azap chamber that transports you to different levels of the game.
The story itself is the usual 'Defeat the wicked Kayleth and save your beloved planet from destruction', but never mind that, just sit back and enjoy - but not in the chair with the knob on it! Not unless you've done a RAM save first, this being one of the nice features incorporated, along with commands like GET ALL and BOM (Back One Move).
The graphics are what you notice most, though, having the detail that was evident in Rebel Planet but with much more animation this time. The tasks you're set are pretty tricky, and I'd like to have seen the price a little cheaper, but if you do part with your pennies then I doubt you'll regret it.
|Value For Money||7/10|
Kayleth is something of a surprise. It appeared in my hands wearing nothing but a blue cassette insert which read US Gold pre-production sample and turned out to be one of the best new adventures I've seen for ages.
For a start the plot is really effective, taken from an Asimov short story.
As far as I can work out, you are some sort of inter-stellar secret agent, sent by mind transfer to a far planet. Having arrived, you wake to find yourself in the body of an android (not in itself unusual - you are in a factory making them). Judging from what I've seen so far, your objective is to sort out Kayleth, who seems to be the big shot around here and an all-round bad guy.
There is a great option at the beginning of the game - you can get a sneak preview of about a dozen of the scenes and locations in the game. This would seem to indicate that there are a substantial number of places you can go. It also shows the program's graphics off to their best.
And are they good! The graphics window is about a third of the screen, but the pictures are detailed and well drawn. Many of them have some moving component. All of them are very much complements to the text.
The text itself is impressive, too. The parser seems to be fairly comprehensive, with a good vocab and you can also string together a number of instructions, using the comma.
There may also be other features of the game which I have not yet discovered - I'm working without any sort of instructions whatsoever. But I've seen enough to know that Kayleth is going to be a big hit with the adventure playing public.
Just to start you off, a couple of hints. Right at the beginning, try flexing your muscles a bit to get off the belt. To escape the guard android, which will smear you across the landscape rapidamento, go Up and pull what you find there. Examine every location - and have a look in the mirror. Maybe you can find something to fill the empty gap in your head...
Label: US Gold
Reviewer: Gary Rook
SUPPLIER: US Gold/Adventuresoft
MACHINE: Spectrum 48/128, C64/128, Amstrad, BBC/Electron, IBM
PRICE: £8.99 (Spec 48), £9.99 (Spec 128, C64/128, Amstrad, BBC, Electron), £19.99 (IBM)
You are a programmable droid with a program. Your aim in life is to kill Kayleth, in this sci-fi story written by Steve, Rebel Planet, Ufnowski.
A dramatic loading screen leads into the story which puts you on board a factory ship that produces androids. You find yourself strapped by metal bands to a conveyor belt, moving slowly but surely towards a pair of electrified robotic claws!
The graphics in this adventure are animated and the claws look terrifying as they open and close as you move steadily towards them.
You have a limited number of moves to escape - only to be pursued by a destroyer droid, whose intentions are deadly!
After a bit of quick thinking, and much searching, you MAY have in your possession as many as four objects, and be confined to an area of eight locations. Now the fun really starts!
What can you do with a fuse, some gloves, a length of sticky tape, and a sealed, welded canister? By the time you have that one worked out, chances are your SAVE tape will be worn through!
Eventually, by the - careful - use of an AZAP chamber, you find you can leave the ship and set foot on Zymoria. Making your way to the city of Zymogg, the game starts to open up, with many places to explore, and the dreaded Ufnowski humour to put up with!
On the bar of the Oblivion Inn, for examplem sits a try of Qnuts - a tempting appetiser if ever there was one! Qnuts, in case you didn't know, are a kind of high-breed peanut, and breath-freshener! Take them, and the temptation to do a runner with the empty tray, is overwhelming!
Up to the crater, and down to the beach, and by now you've probably gathered a capacity load of attractive objects destined to make you drop the very mundane one you've been carting around for far too long. And you've guessed it - that is the object that is about to become the key to further progress!
If that isn't enough to make you give up in despair, it won't be long before you come across a locked door. "Didn't you ask xxxxx for the key?" questions Ufnowski innocently, when you try to open it!
Needless to say, xxxxxx was keeping very quiet about the key when you last saw him, some two dozen locations and 15 problems ago!
There are lots of things to uncover in Kayleth. Examine is a very useful command, and well handled. It reveals not only essential objects, but clues crucial to the solving of many of the problems.
Even then, they're no giveaway - the reply to Examine often only gives you a few things to chew over, so as to be able to arrive at the answer yourself.
Other replies are helpful too. "You don't need to do that" saves you a lot of unnecessary heartache. "Please try varying that verb" means you can't use it in conjunction with that noun, or perhaps you've mis-spelt it. I won't comment on the cheeky "Maybe later, maybe not!" message!
Input is multi-word, and a GET ALL: command is finger-saving. But the parser isn't as complex as you'll find in an Infocom or Scrolls game. GET ALL EXCEPT DEXTA proves blind to the EXCEPTion, and without warning, you will have picked up the lot.
The graphics, which were also created by Steve, are superb. Many of the pictures are cleverly animated in a way that you'll, not have seen on a cassette based adventure before.
It's a pity there's no RAM save, but with all those graphics in memory, I could hardly complain that there was not enough room left in the 48k Speccy, which I used to play the game.
I hate brilliant adventures! I keep playing and playing, instead of writing about them, and I get black looks from Overseer Metcalfe.
Kayleth IS brilliant - it's one of those adventures which need careful trough to sort out the puzzles. Play it. and every now and again you'll get furious with Steve Ofnowski. And you can be quite certain that he's sitting back somewhere, knowing exactly what you're up to, and laughing like a drain into his computer.
U.S. Gold/Adventuresoft UK Ltd
Kayleth is the first adventure from the AdventureSoft new Isaac Asimov Science Fiction Magazine series. Written by Stefan Ufnowski, the story centres on the peaceful Zyroneans, an advanced and civilised race, but because their planet is rich in a rare mineral called Chromazin, their world is attacked by the all-powerful Kayleth and his awesome army of Droids.
Soon the Zyroneans are enslaved by Kayleth and sent to work in the subterranean caves to extract the precious mineral which Kayleth craves. You are a loyal Zyronean. Having managed to stay free from the Droids' clutches, you are the only remaining hope. You vow to rid your planet of this evil leech but before you can begin your task something strange happens; everything goes black, your mind struggles to release itself from this endless void, you wake to find yourself brainwashed, strapped to a table moving ever closet towards a pair of steel claws which descend rhythmically and emit a blue light.
Your first instinct is to survive. A distant memory flashes through your confused mind - save the planet - but try as you may your thought patterns are jumbled and unreal.
AdventureSoft has done it again. Taking an excellent story, it has turned it into an excellent sci-fi adventure, combining atmospheric text descriptions with good-quality graphics, some of which are animated. Mike Woodruffs team has produced another thought-provoking adventure which starts at a cracking pace and very rarely eases to let you catch your breath while you race about, trying not only to find your own identity but also the means to defeat a powerful foe. Good, logical problems, coupled with a largo vocabulary, will keep most adventurers busy for a long time.
|Value For Money||4/5|
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